Golden Knights open homestand with victory over Kraken
On a night of bizarre penalties and long lulls with little action, the Golden Knights flipped the switch late in the second period and early in the third to get the win.
Updated November 10, 2021 - 3:48 am
In order to watch the Golden Knights’ game Tuesday, a subscription to a streaming service was required, leaving many fans in the dark.
Those who were able to see it were treated to a weird one.
On a night of bizarre penalties and long lulls with little action, the Knights flipped the switch late in the second period and early in the third for a 4-2 victory over the Seattle Kraken in front of an announced crowd of 18,246 at T-Mobile Arena.
Reilly Smith scored twice in the first 1:16 of the third period to help the Knights open their six-game homestand with their second victory over the expansion club.
“We changed a few things in our system, and it’s going to take time to adjust, it’s all new for us and now we’re starting to get it,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “It’s becoming second nature for us. You’re starting to see what we want to do throughout games playing those systems.”
Evgenii Dadonov backhanded in a loose puck with 15.9 seconds remaining in the second period to tie the score 2-2. The goal came 15 seconds after Yanni Gourde put the Kraken ahead and was the first of three straight shots to get past Seattle goalie Chris Driedger.
Smith put the Knights ahead 30 seconds into the third period when he deflected Shea Theodore’s shot from the point, though Smith claimed the goal belonged to the defenseman.
“I think that’s Shea’s,” Smith said. “But if he doesn’t want it, I’ll take it.”
Pietrangelo capped a late surge in the first period when his wrist shot tied the score at 1 with 25.8 seconds left in the period.
Pietrangelo had a goal and an assist. Theodore, Jonathan Marchessault and William Carrier added two assists apiece to help the Knights (7-6) climb back over .500 with their sixth win in the past eight games.
Forward Paul Cotter made his NHL debut for the Knights a week before his 22nd birthday.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
1. Goaltending the difference
Robin Lehner made 25 saves to win his third straight decision and outplayed Driedger, who gave up two soft goals in his first start of the season.
Pietrangelo’s shot from long distance was mishandled by Driedger for the Knights’ first goal, and he appeared to whiff on Theodore’s shot for the third goal, though it was later credited to Smith.
Lehner scrambled to keep out Morgan Geekie’s spinning effort with less than five minutes left in the second period and has allowed two or fewer goals in five of his past seven starts.
During that stretch, he has a .930 save percentage with a 2.27 goals-against average.
“We have a lot of belief in our group in our depth, in our system,” Lehner said. “It’s slowly getting there. We’re fighting hard right now just to stay in games, getting points. We have some key players come back, but I think everyone’s stepping up and we’re working really hard to stay in the race.”
2. Wake-up call
The Knights got off to a listless start in the dreaded first game back after a long trip. It took a heavy hit dished out by defenseman Brayden McNabb to snap them out of their funk.
McNabb leveled Kraken forward Brandon Tanev with a hip check near the Knights’ blue line with 6:31 remaining in the first period. The impact sent both players airborne before crashing to the ice.
After being outplayed for most of the first period, the Knights outshot Seattle 8-1 following McNabb’s hit.
“We were listless,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “You always know the first game back after a long trip there’s always an issue there. I thought (McNabb) kind of got the group’s attention that he wasn’t going to just quietly watch this game go by. He was going to get us involved, and he did that.”
3. Unexpected goals
The matchup featured the NHL’s two worst power plays, and both teams converted.
The Kraken took advantage when Chandler Stephenson was sent off for grabbing Gourde’s visor during a scrum after the whistle in the first period.
Jordan Eberle was left alone at the back post and backhanded in a rebound for his team-leading seventh goal. Seattle finished 1-for-4 on the power play and ranks last in the league at 9.5 percent.
The Knights broke through in the third period when Smith tapped in Marchessault’s pass at the end of a well-executed sequence for a 4-2 lead and his first goal since Oct. 29.
The Knights went 1-for-2 with the man advantage and moved up to 28th in the league (11.5 percent).
“Being able to tie up the special teams battle was big for us because we’ve been losing that a lot,” Smith said.
Contact David Schoen at email@example.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.